Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Trump of God

The next most significant development in the course of history will be the rapture of the church. While we don't know when our blessed hope will occur, we do know we have to be close given all the stage setting for the Tribulation that has been going on.

At the rapture, God Himself will announce His coming for us, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord"  (1 Th 4:16-17, KJV). The sound that we will hear at our resurrection is called here the "trump of God."

There is only one other use of the word trump in the King James Bible and it is another classic rapture passage: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor 15:52). Everywhere else this same Greek word occurs, the translation is, "trumpet." In both places the use of the word "trump" is associated with the rapture of the church. And thus we can see that the "trump of God" is the same as "the last trump".

It is clear that the translators of the King James Bible considered the trumpet sound that will occur in conjunction with the rapture to be sufficiently different from other trumpets that they distinguished it with the term "trump." The distinction of the trump of God is that it is from Him directly and not from more ordinary trumpets as sounded by men and angels.

Look again at the description of the trump in 1 Thess, it describes "the Lord Himself" taking action to meet us in the air upon our resurrection. Our resurrection is announced by a shout from the Lord that is like the voice of an archangel and sounds like a trumpet. This is reminiscent of the Apostle John being called to heaven: "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this'” (Rev 4:1, NKJV). The description here is a picture of the rapture in the book of Revelation which is generally taken to be in chronological order because of Rev 1:19. It is interesting to note that Rev 4:1 divides the church being on earth and in heaven with Christ. The letters to the seven churches in chapters two and three correspond to the different phases of the Church Age, followed by a depiction of the rapture in Rev 4:1 and following that the church is only seen in heaven with Christ.

If the announcement of the rapture of the church will be the last trump of God, it begs the question, what was the first trump of God? First things and last things always have special significance in Scripture. For example, 1 Cor 15:45 says, "it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit."  As a study of the first Adam sheds light on the last Adam, in order to better understand the "last trump of God" it is helpful to consider the first trump.

A study of the 111 references to trumpets in the Old and New Testaments reveals that in general, the use of trumpets were ordained by God to be used by Israel for: (1) a call to war, and (2) a call for assembly and/or movement. Trumpets were used in conjunction with all the seven feasts of God, with the most trumpet activity associated with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). In the midst of all this trumpeting, the only other occasion a trumpet sound could be considered to be from God Himself was when Moses received the Law from God at Mount Sinai, see Exodus 19:16-20. The trumpet sounding at Mount Sinai could have been from an angel but Scripture makes it clear in other places when angels sound trumpets and this passage does not say that.

So, given that the first trump of God occurred at Mount Sinai, it announced the beginning of God dealing with Israel upon the basis of the Law. The light that shines on the last trump of God is that it will announce the resumption and completion of God's dealings with Israel upon the basis of the Law.

Consider the promises God made Israel in Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy." These weeks here are referring to weeks of years which is a principle well established in Scripture (see Genesis 27:27-28 regarding Jacob, Laban, Leah and Rachael).

God told the prophet Daniel that God would use Israel for 70 x 7 or 490 years to accomplish several things: (1) bring an end to Israel transgressing against God by rejecting Him and the Messiah, (2) bring an end to Israel living in sin apart from the Messiah,  (3) provide a way for sins to be forgiven, (4) usher in everlasting righteousness, (5) complete the prophecies that have been revealed, and (6) anoint the Messiah as King. Only one of these promises have been completed, the others will be completed at the end of the 70 weeks of years when Jesus returns.

Daniel 9:25-26 goes on to describe some key developments that will happen during the first 69 weeks of years, "from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem." Jerusalem would be rebuilt, the "Messiah shall be cut off" which is a euphemism for being killed, and "the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (which happened in 70 AD.)

The last of the 70 weeks of Daniel is highlighted separately from the first 69 in verse 27...The prince who is to come will "confirm a [7-year] covenant" involving Israel and in the middle of the 7-year week, "bring an end to sacrifice and offering" committing the abomination of desolation Jesus warned about during His Olivet Discourse. This prince who is to come is the Antichrist who will make it possible for Israel to build a temple in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Tribulation then desecrate if by declaring himself God at the mid-point of the Tribulation.

It is important to consider why God separated the 70th week of Daniel from the other 69 weeks. It was necessary so that Jesus could pay the price for our sins on the cross. And it was also necessary to make the mystery of the church possible; "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25).

God took a break from the 70 weeks of years to work through the church but this does not mean that the church has replaced Israel in the promises of God. God is not done with Israel; He will fulfill the promises He made to them in the 70th week of Daniel. God revealed Himself to the world through Israel up until Jesus went to the cross. Since the cross, God is revealing Himself to the world through the church. But the Church Age will be complete when we are raptured off the planet and God will resume revealing Himself to the world through Israel again for one final week of years.

The last trump of God will be an eye-opening supernatural sign for Israel. While God will send a strong delusion so that the unbelieving world will not see the rapture for what it is (2 Th 2:11), the spiritually discerning will recognize the rapture as being from God. This supernatural event will cause multitudes to become followers of Jesus including 144,000 Jews. The 144,000 are introduced in Revelation 7 following the seal judgments but the scene is in heaven as a parenthesis to explain how a core remnant of Israel will be supernaturally protected for use by God during the Tribulation.

There are some who try to equate the last trump of God with the seventh trumpet judgment in Revelation. But the seven trumpets of Revelation are blown by angels, the trump of God is His speaking directly to us. The trump of God is an act of grace, while the trumpets of Revelation are acts of wrath. Looking forward to the trump of God is comforting to the church (1 Thess 4:18), while the trumpets of Revelation will cause the nations to be angry (Rev 11:18). Also, there is no mention of Jesus leaving His throne when the angel sounds the seventh trumpet of Revelation, instead, the twenty-four elders worship God on His throne (Rev 11:15-18). The previous reference to the twenty-four elders worshiping God makes it clear that the object of their worship is Jesus (Rev 4:10-5:6).

Given that we are in the season of our Lord's return, we should not be surprised to see a foreshadowing of the trump of God. God is in control, so you have to think twice about anything that appears like a mere coincidence. If God is in control, there are no coincidences. With that in mind, it is certainly interesting that a political unknown by the name of Donald Trump would become the leading candidate for president in the Republican Party. But Dan 2:21 comes to mind, "He removes kings and raises up kings."  Could God be sending the spiritually discerning a message that we should be ready for the trump to sound since he has raised up a trump that is sounding off? This is even more interesting when you realize that the name "Donald" means "ruler of the world."

The last trump of God is not only our summons to meet the Lord in the air, it constitutes a wake-up call for Israel. As we see the stage being set for God to resume working through Israel again for one final but critical seven-year period, it should drive us to get on with what the Lord is calling us to do. Time is quickly running out for the Church Age. "Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11). Given the lateness of the hour, we should be listening for the Lord's call as much as watching for signs of His return.

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